FTSE 100 marks 10th successive record high close
Weaker pound powers bourse gains
Sterling slips 0.44% against the US dollar to $1.2125
FTSE 100 shares appear positively related to the Nasdaq as the London ticker again hits a fresh record high on Wednesday, its tenth successive.
In a month which has seen a slew of record highs by the US tech-heavy Nasdaq, the FTSE 100 blue-chip ticker has notched up record highs which have their origin in the last days of 2016 and in a falling pound.
The FTSE 100 ended the day's trading up 15.02 points, or 0.21%, at 7,290.49. The FTSE 100's latest closing record high extended what became the longest such streak in history on Tuesday when nine successive days were recorded in the milestone.
The market closed as US President-elect Donald Trump was about to deliver his first press conference in six months. Although stiff words for the US biotech industry and a Mexican border tax were offered up by Trump, UK investors were not anticipating negative fallout for London following remarks that a quick free trade deal with the United States would be uppermost in the minds of policymakers on both sides of the Atlantic, a position London needs as it seeks to depart from the European Union in two years' time.
Supermarket chain Sainsbury's added 1% to 261.4p after a positive update on its Christmas trading, but its rivals fared less well, with Morrisons falling 2.6% to 239.5p and Tesco (LON:TSCO) down 2% to 208.8p.
Housebuilder Taylor Wimpey (LON:TW.) reported a 4% jump in home completions last year, to 13,881. It said customers continued to "benefit from a wide range of mortgage products and low interest rates with customer confidence remaining robust". However, its shares ended down 2.5% to 170.6p.
The aerospace and defence group posted group trading profit below guidance for the year ended 31 December and said it was not recommending a final dividend.
In a post-close trading update, the company said group trading profit for the year came in at £245mln, below the range of £255mln to £275mln set out in the update back in October. Cobham said the detailed year end close and audit is ongoing but is not expected to result in an increased trading profit.
Meanwhile, recruitment agency PageGroup (LON:PAGE) closed up 7.3% to 421.7p.
Page posted a rise in fourth-quarter gross profit and said it expects operating profit for 2016 to be towards the top end of the range of market forecasts.
Group gross profit was up 3.8% to £163.4mln, marking a record quarter for the group, although gross profit in the UK was down 6.7% to £33.8mln, as client and candidate confidence levels deteriorated and activity levels dwindled.
The FTSE AIM 100 Index closed down 0.03% at 4168 and the FTSE AIM All-Share Index edged up 0.06% to 870.
London’s gaining stocks were ahead at 37% versus 31% of stocks which fell.
1530 GMT - FTSE 100 breaks 7,300 level as record-breaking run extended to 10th session
Footsie breaks 7,300 level, ahead 43 points at 7,318
Extends record run to a tenth day
US blue chips higher ahead of Trump speech
Sainsbury's up on better than expected trading update
3.30pm … Trump card …
The Footsie shot through the 7,300 level today, extending its recording–breaking run to a 10th straight session led by dollar-earners as the pound took another kicking versus the greenback after mixed UK data and ahead of a key speech from US President-elect Donald Trump.
Around 3.25pm, the FTSE 100 index was up 43 points at 7,318, just easing off the new all-time peak of 7,315.81, while on currency markets sterling dropped 0.6% versus the US dollar to US$1.2107.
Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK, said: “Another weak day for the pound has contrived to keep pushing the FTSE100 upwards towards another record high and above the 7,300 level and on course for a 12th consecutive record close, while the FTSE250 has lagged behind as it strives to gain a foothold above the 18,400 level.”
He added: “Markets appear to have decided to focus on the widening of the trade deficit in November rather than the improvement in the industrial and manufacturing production numbers in pushing the pound below the 1.21 level against the US dollar for the first time since October last year when the flash crash pushed the pound briefly below the 1.2000 level.”
Across the pond, US blue chips pushed up towards the psychologically-important 20,000 level in early trading, with the Dow Jones gaining 63 points at 19,919 after three-quarters of an hours trading in New York.
Investors were awaiting a much-anticipated news conference from Trump, his first for months, with the President-elect’s words to be scoured for any indication as to his legislative priorities less than ten days ahead of his inauguration, set for January 20.
Connor Campbell, financial analyst at Spreadex said: “The tone of this appearance is going to be vastly different than what the Trump camp would have initially planned for when arranging the presser, with the President-elect having a bevy of Russia-related accusations showered upon him in the last 24 hours.
“Nevertheless, any comments that relate to policy are likely to have an effect on the market, especially if they are as sector-specific as some of Trump’s previous remarks (both online and elsewhere). “
12.00pm ... Small cap movers ...
The AIM All Share Index opened higher this morning but has given up those gains as the markets head towards lunch.
11.30am ... FTSE 100 back in the black ...
Footsie shrugged off its early torpor and was heading for a tenth daily rise in a row as Sainsbury’s pleasantly surprised with its trading update.
Like-for-like sales rose by 0.1% despite rising competition and import costs. Combined sales at Sainsbury’s and Argos stores rose by 1% on a like-for-like basis in the third quarter.
FTSE 100 was eight points higher at 7,283 although this was a little below its early morning best.
Sterling’s weakness has fuelled London’s record run and was a factor again today as overseas earners such as miners rose again.
Anglo American PLC was the pick of the metal stocks with an 18p gain to 1,256p.
Tesco was flat at 212p and M&S ticked up a touch to 341.8p.
The shares tanked 16% to 138.3p on its third profit warning in recent memory and hint that meaty write-offs on some big contracts are in the offing.
8.30am ... FTSE 100 drifts; Sainsbury in demand ...
The FTSE 100 got off to a sluggish start as it fell 4.3 points to 7,271.17 in early trade.
The stand-out performer, up 5% in the first half hour of trading, was Sainsbury after posting better-than-expected Christmas trading figures.
Its performance mirrors that of Wm Morrison Supermarkets (LON:MRW) Tuesday, which also managed to repel the threat posed by the discounters to deliver a positive update.
“The larger supermarkets may not entirely be out of the woods just yet, but the signs are as promising as they have been for some considerable time,” said Richard Hunter, head of research at investment group Wilson King.
“Whilst these Sainsbury numbers are not sufficient to shoot the lights out, they are comfortably ahead of expectations.
“In particular, the contribution from the online and convenience channels is strong, whilst the integration of Argos is already beginning to bear fruit.
“Meanwhile, Argos aside, non-food is also progressing, most notably in the form of the clothing line and Sainsbury’s Bank.”
On the debit side, Footsie travel stocks gave up all of Tuesday’s gains.
Delving down into the small-caps, look out for ValiRx (LON:VAL), which delivered some interesting early results from its prostate cancer clinical trial.
6.45am ... Quiet start predicted ...
London’s blue chips are set for a quiet start after the new record high seen at the close yesterday.
Spread bet firms see Footsie easing a few points after it added 37 to 7,275.
It marked the ninth day of gains in a row, the longest stretch of daily rises in its history.
The benefits of sterling’s weakness on overseas earners is driving the market upward although there was some help from good numbers from supermarket Morrisons as well.
Today it’s Sainsbury’s turn and it will be a surprise if it can repeat Morrison’s cheer.
Analysts at Barclays expect Sainsbury's to deliver a like-for-like sales decline of 1% for the quarter including Christmas.
Wall Street may add to the slow start as the Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped back after a bright start to close down 32 at 19,855.
President–elect Donald Trump is scheduled for a major speech today and investors may have decided to be cautious ahead of that.
Asia saw gains in Hong Kong and Tokyo but a slight dip in Shanghai.
- Newspaper veteran David Montgomery emerges as potential buyer of the Express – Daily Telegraph
- Argentina strikes $15 billion a year shale investment deal – Financial Times
- Jeremy Corbyn calls for maximum wage law – The Guardian
- Prices of Oxo, Bisto and Mr Kipling to rise after pound’s Brexit plunge – The Guardian
- Volkswagen confirms $4.3 billion payment over diesel emissions – The Guardian
- Bovis paid buyers cash to hit targets – The Times
- Snapchat to set up international HQ in London – The Independent
- More than £100 billion raised in AIM junior stock market since its launch in 1995 – Daily Mail
- Mining boss ‘flew $500k in a suitcase to bribe corrupt African officials to change laws’ – Daily Mail
- Oil - WTI up 0.26 to 51.08
- Gold - up US$3 to $1,189
- £/$ - 1.2156 down slightly